IRENE CLARKE, UK, THE LAOS MEKONG, DEC 2016
On 28th December 2016, I embarked on the R.V. Laos Pandaw for 10 of the most magical days I have ever experienced. The small boat was comfortable and well designed and the friendly crew were considerate and always there to help. The food could not be faulted, indeed I cannot think of anything that could be improved as it was all perfection. The outings to the villages were unforgettable, seeing their lives and homes. During these visits the villagers were smiling and welcoming and the crew who accompanied us were always on hand to help and explain.
I wish I could do the whole thing again!
ELISSA BAYER, MYANMAR, PAGAN TO MANDALAY SHORT CRUISE, JAN 2017
We have just come back from our first trip to Myanmar and included in our Audley itinerary was the two-day trip from Bagan to near Mandalay. I then found I had downloaded Paul Strachan’s book about Pandaw and I just wanted to say thank you. We had the most wonderful time and even though the operation has now been running for many years, all on board including the guests seemed to experience a wonderful spirit of adventure culminating in us congregating around the upper deck. However, I do want to highlight the efforts of your spectacular crew when we landed at the pottery village.
I am now a Pandaw convert and hope to go on more trips when we can travel with you all again.
BOB & BARBARA HACKMAN, UK, THE CLASSIC MEKONG, MAR 2016
We thought we would send you a brief note to let you know what a wonderful experience we had on the RV Mekong Pandaw. All the crew gave excellent service providing a real team effort in order to make sure we were able to gain the most out of the cruise. The overall comfort level and the quality of food was excellent throughout the week. When asking other passengers if they would consider taking another cruise with Pandaw the response was "yes, most definitely".
Bob & Barbara Hackman
PRISCILLE LEBLANC, CANADA, THE CHINDWIN, DEC 2015
Dear Mr. Strachan:
I wanted to give you additional feedback on our recent 7-day cruise on the RV Kalay Pandaw down the Chindwin. We are frequent visitors to Myanmar and were enticed on a Pandaw cruise to visit an area of the country not easily accessible otherwise. While I confess we had some reservations (being in close confines with 8 other passengers for 7 days being one of them), we were blown away – mostly everything exceeded our expectations, including our fellow passengers. The ship which I understand you had built for your own use, is very comfortable and kept in immaculate condition – we stayed in the owner’s suite which we loved. You can be very proud of the ship’s team led by our purser Win Myo. Win and his able assistant Maing provided unobtrusive and simply excellent service at every turn. In his unassuming and low-key manner Win ensured that his passengers’ various expectations were met and that everyone was onboard with the plan for the day.
The rest of the crew were kind and helpful and my husband who has a bad leg truly appreciated their discretion and their willingness to assist whenever necessary. I read your book with great interest while lounging on the deck between excursions and understanding the challenges this poses in a country like Myanmar, I can tell you that your customer service/hotel senior managers have done an outstanding job in training the teams to provide 5-star service. It seemed impossible that these beautifully prepared and presented meals were coming out of that small kitchen. Win’s Shan tea salads and all the seafood dishes (including the Prawn Burger) were stand-outs for me. There were nothing but rave reviews about the food from all 9 passengers, including the one vegetarian among us. The New Year’s party on a sandbank with dancing to 50s music was a blast by the way.
Finally we were grateful to have San Lin Tun as a guide – he is very knowledgeable, well-spoken and the consummate professional - overall my husband and I both rate him as the best guide we’ve had in Myanmar or anywhere else for that matter. The excursions were all very well chosen – for us the visits to Kanee and the Phowin Taung Caves were highlights. Mingkin was very interesting although we thought its comparison to Luang Prabang and Bagan by some to be bit of a stretch.
I offer some suggestions for your consideration. The weather on the Chindwin can be quite cool in the early morning and evening so blankets to keep warm on the deck would be appreciated. Also the pre-departure literature should mention that warm clothing is required. Some of us would have brought additional warm clothing. Merchandising suggestion – books are excellent but you would also do well with polo shirts and sweaters and caps.
In summary we greatly enjoyed our first Pandaw expedition and we look forward to experiencing another one on our next trip to our beloved Myanmar.
MINNIE & ANTHONY GREAYER, UK, THE CHINDWIN, NOV 2015
Dear Mr Strachan
I know that you have already received a hugely glowing report from Vanessa Davis but, as we are the other lucky couple who have enjoyed your wonderful Pandaw cruises, I want to add my few words of thanks to your amazing staff.
It was so obviously such a happy team lead by Win Myo and they couldn't have done more to ensure that we had the most relaxing and enjoyable time. And Wyn is certainly a jewel in the Pandaw crown!
And as for the chefs....well, each meal was a total delight and SO beautifully presented. It was with a heavy heart that we had to say au revoir at Homelin. I hope you will pass our thanks and comments to Win.
With best wishes
Minnie and Anthony Greayer
WENDY URQUHART, THE CLASSIC MEKONG, SEP 2015
I am writing to thankyou for a wonderful trip we recently had on the Mekong Pandaw upstream from Vietnam. We were a party of 4 couples and our trip left Saigon Saturday 5th September.
We had already been in Vietnam for a week or more travelling from Hanoi To Halong Bay, down to Hoi An and then a few days in Saigon. From the check in to final departure everything was of a very high standard. The bus to My Tho port was of high standard, so too the one to transfer us to Siem Reap. (the 5 hr journey most of us were not looking forward to at all, however it was very comfortable indeed)
I was impressed that the trip went ahead despite not full numbers, we started off with 28 and then 9 left us at Phnom Penh. One of these was John Lloyd? your SE Asian manager who was very helpful with tips and suggestions at each stop. A few of us took the opportunity to offer some suggestions so hope he is able to follow those through.
Above all the staff were so courteous to each person and were very accommodating at each stop.
We did have an elderly lady on board with some mobility issues and your staff went out of their way to help her. Initially she had requested a main deck room with her travel agent, however these were fully booked out at her time of booking. The first morning she had not got up in time for the shore excursion and the staff were worried , as I stayed on board that morning I offered to go to her room with them to check. (She was ok just had found the flights of stairs too much and had slept in) At this stage there were 2 vacant rooms on the main deck and staff offered (after I told the passenger they were vacant) to move her downstairs, which they quickly did.
Throughout the rest of the trip, staff were exceptionally helpful to her. One young female Restuarant staff member would ensure she had enough from the buffet and always got a plate of fruit and sweets for her.
We were very impressed with all shore excursions and extremely well organised. The welcome drink and cold towels a very welcome return to "home". On another day, I stayed on the boat and "welcomed" everyone home by helping to hand out the cold towels, the passengers and staff thought it very funny!
I'm sorry I didn't get all the staff names accurately, but in particular the purser Sorone, the bar staff Monerak and S......?. The girls in the spa and our room staff ??? Linh. She also worked in the laundry and provided us with the fluffiest towels we had in 4 weeks of travel!!
The 2 guides from Vietnam ( Wun) n Cambodia ( Son ) had excellent English and a very good knowledge base. Son was exceptional In helping the elderly passenger rearrange her plans for Siem Reap and was very understanding when some of us checked what he was organising for this passenger.
May I offer some suggestions please (as mentioned to John)
# Can the price be quoted in Aussie $$ for the Australians as it makes it difficult when trying to convert to $ us.
# We were embarrassed when we went on some of the shore excursions especially to the schools, to be aware of the possibility of taking some school Items to donate to the teachers or the school.
# On a previous trip to Vietnam we took an extra suitcase full of suitable items to donate to an orphanage/school and would have been happy to do the same this time.
# We were very impressed with the staff that cut steps into the bank when we went ashore and all the staff were very aware of those passengers (I was one of them) that needed extra assistance when embarking/disembarking.
# The headsets we were provided with were a great idea.
We were very impressed with your company supporting the local library building and the other projects in other country's. All passengers in our group thought this cruise to be the best part of our holiday and will highly recommend your company to others. We will be looking at a trip to Burma in a few years with Pandaw and I wish you success and look forward to future cruise details.
BILL PAGE, MANDALAY PAGAN PACKET, AUG 2015
I would like to thank Pandaw for an excellent experience on my recent cruise from Mandalay to Bagan, the staff and crew were a credit to your company. The guide, San, really made our trip with his detailed knowledge of Myanmar. I shall be travelling again with Pandaw next year and will certainly pass on tales of my very pleasant cruise to all my friends. Thank you Bill Page
MAREE O'BORN, HALONG BAY AND THE RED RIVER, JUL 2015
Hi Mr Strachan, had a great trip. Crew of ship and local guide Vu all excellent. Maree O'Born.
Dear Paul Strachan
I have recently returned from a Pandaw Cruise from Mandalay to Prome and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it.
Everything about the cruise was first rate. The boat was wonderful. It was clean, comfortable and well maintained. Every member of the crew was friendly, helpful and professional. The Purser, Mr Maung Naing (Eric) had a great sense of humour and was just so helpful. The food produced by the chef was outstanding. It not only tasted good but was beautifully presented. I assumed he had trained in a 5 star hotel but apparently not.
The crew on that boat is pure gold!
I hope they are all appreciated by management.
I will certainly be telling my friends what a great holiday I had.
MR IAN AND MRS MERIEL TEGNER
We have just returned from a wonderful trip. At very short notice, enthused by descriptions from Iain and Katie Anderson, we managed to get a cabin on the Mandalay to Pyay cruise starting on 21st February. We have had a fantastic time.
Your organisation is so excellent; all the staff so supportive, friendly and efficient; Daniel Townsend as terrific a guide as one could hope to encounter in a lifetime of travel. His relationship with his clients, and with all whom we encountered in both villages off the beaten track and tourist centres, his authoritative knowledge, his eloquent delivery, his niceness, and his superb but unobtrusive discipline, are truly outstanding.
For us the trip was much enhanced by the several villages that we visited, and by Daniel’s emphasis on the two-way nature of these contacts, as well as by getting some understanding of the work that Pandaw is doing in support of these communities.